How can we be all those things? Well, we believe that breastfeeding our babies is an incredible gift, but that sometimes it simply doesn't happen the way we planned.
We are not here to encourage or discourage any particular choice parents make on how to nourish their babies. We are here to support the ones who struggled or are struggling to breastfeed and are facing the guilt that often comes along with deciding to stop breastfeeding. We have both experienced this personally, and have gone through all the guilt alone, so we wanted to start this tumblr to post encouragement and to answer your questions and concerns as you make this sometimes difficult and traumatic transition.
We want you to bottle-feed without fear of judgement, and without guilt. You are doing the best that you can do for your baby given your particular circumstances. Be assured that the love and care you take in making this sometimes agonizing decision shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that love can come in bottles, too.
I had so many plans when it came to giving birth and raising my son. I think part of this has to do with always needing control, especially over myself/my body. Typically, this has always manifested intself in a very negative way- I have struggled with a severe eating disorder (anorexia nervosa, mainly) since I was around 8 years old, and have been in and out of hospitals, treatment centres, and a psych ward. However, in fall 2009, I went into a Christian residential home for 6 months, and God truly turned my life around. I went from 80 pounds to 115-120 pounds, and finally began seeing huge changes in my life. My husband and I, married for 3 years at the time, decided that since I was no longer so sick (and he wasn’t planning my funeral anymore), we would try for our one and only child. We knew it would take awhile, if we got pregnant at all- doctors said it wouldn’t be possible. Well, after a year of actively trying and 2 months of being on hormones, we finally got that “BFP” (Big Fat Positive [on a pregnancy test]) we wanted!
The pregnancy wasn’t so bad- I had really bad morning sickness for a short period, though, and I did have to go to the ER for IV fluids one night. :( I had to give up running (I was training for marathons up until I got pregnant, and ran a half-marathon at 7 weeks pregnant!) and it was very difficult to see my body go up nearly 30 pounds. I just kept telling myself I would be able to lose all the weight from running and breastfeeding.
I wanted a natural birth and to exclusively breastfeed. After we used up our disposable diapers from my baby shower, I wanted to cloth-diaper. I wanted to co-sleep with him in co-sleeper bassinet. And I wanted to stay home to take care of him so I could run and get in shape. I thought I could do it all! For sure!
Well I did have a completely natural birth- I thought it would be my ticket for an alert baby so he could breastfeed immediately. He did! But he also left my nipples bleeding. I had an overactive letdown, and he choked and screamed constantly. Finally, the scabs on my nipples healed and my doula assured me that it looked like my son had a good latch. 3 weeks after his birth, however, I tried cutting myself (something I hadn’t done in years) while in a daze. My OBGYN diagnosed me with “postpartum depression” and even recommended that I check myself into the psych ward. Instead, I decided to go to an emergency appointment with a psychiatrist whose office was next door to my OB; he told me that he could do nothing for me since I “can’t take medications while breastfeeding” and he didn’t do talk therapy. I couldn’t take the stabbing pains in my breasts, the screaming and crying, and the exhaustion. I started pumping on my mother-in-law’s prompting. I HAD to give my baby breastmilk- both my mother-in-law and mother were adament on that, and my doula talked about all the negative consequences of formula. I thought to myself: How could I give my baby poison!?
At 5.5 weeks, I realised that even the pumping was horrible painful and I still felt like my breasts were on pins and needles. My nipples would turn weird colours, and I couldn’t even sleep because they hurt so badly. Every movement I made grazed them, and I thought I would scream from the painful sensitivity. I contacted lacatation consultants, took antibiotics from the OBGYN (could it be mastitis?), slathered my nipples with lanolin and then Monistat (maybe it’s thrush!). I tried air-drying and covering my breasts. I rubbed olive oil on my nipples and all over my pump flanges. I tried cold compresses and warm compresses, and I seemed to always be massaging my breasts. With some research, I figured out that I may just have Raynaud’s Phenomenon of the nipples. After asking my doula about it, she agreed. There is no “cure”…just remedies I had already tried.
At 7 weeks, I introduced organic formula to my son- I cried and cried and cried. I gave him 7-12 ounces of breastmilk at night up until he was 24 weeks old. But despite that, I kept thinking about how my son was eating poison. I started being unable to eat, because all I could think about was how I didn’t deserve food if he had to drink any formula at all.
I never thought, in a million years, that I wouldn’t breastfeed my baby. My mother-in-law and mother are both extremely pro-nursing, and I felt ashamed to let them down. Nearly every mom I know and talk to nurses their baby openly and proudly. I wanted to be a mom like that, and mourned the loss of being able to nurse my baby. I once was like those breastfeeding extremists, who considered bottle-feeding for the “lazy” or “uncaring” mother. I finally even tried relactation weeks later, but after 2 days of pumping every 3 hours and just getting a few drops and agonising pain, I realised I needed to give up the guilt and acknowledge all of the other amazing things I am doing for my son.
I have now become a huge advocate for donor breastmilk. Thanks to 5 amazing donors, Lucas stopped needing any formula at around 24 weeks old!
Lizzie and I started this blog because, as natural moms, we both were adament on breastfeeding… and yet, we were unable. We suffered the guilt and shame, and have now come out on the other side. We want to help others to realise that no matter how you feed your child, as long as you are giving your child your love and attention and care, you are still bonding with him or her. Yes, we hear that “breast is best” constantly, but in the end, giving your child breastmilk is not what causes him or her to love you and bond with you! No… instead, it is your unconditional love and support as they grow up into children, then young adults, then go off into the world.